Canada’s federal government announced today that it will be suspending vaccine mandates for passengers traveling on a plane or train within the county as of June 20. Unvaccinated Canadians have not been able to travel domestically since Nov 2021 when the government introduced rules that forbade unvaccinated Canadians from flying or traveling by train within the county’s borders.
Canada’s Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Dominic LeBlanc, told reporters that though some Covid mandates are being suspended, the government would bring them back if the situation deteriorates. “If the situation takes a turn for the worse, we are prepared to bring back the policies necessary to protect Canadians. We don’t regret at all being cautious when it comes to a virus that has tragically killed tens of thousands of Canadians and millions of people around the world.” He went on to say that “Throughout this pandemic, our government’s approach has been rooted in close collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners. We all have a role to play in keeping Canadians safe. Our government will continue to make decisions based on the best public health advice and adjust its measures accordingly.”
In a press release the government stated that: Following a successful vaccination campaign, 32 million (or nearly 90%) of eligible Canadians have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and case counts have decreased. Canadians have stepped up to protect themselves and the people around them, and rates of hospitalization and deaths are also decreasing across the country, and Canada has one of the highest rates of vaccination in the world.
Vaccination continues to be one of the most effective tools to protect Canadians, including younger Canadians, our health care system and our economy. Everyone in Canada needs to keep up to date with recommended Covid-19 vaccines, including booster doses to get ready for the fall. The Government of Canada will continue to work with provinces and territories to help even more Canadians get the shots for which they are eligible.
Throughout the pandemic, the Government of Canada’s response has been informed by expert advice and sound science and research. As the Covid-19 pandemic has evolved, so too have public health measures and advice, which includes vaccination requirements that were always meant to be a temporary measure.”
Other public health measures, such as wearing a mask, continue to apply and will be enforced throughout a traveler’s journey on a plane or train. The press release also notes that “Due to the unique nature of cruise ship travel, vaccination requirements for passengers and crew of cruise ships will continue to remain in effect.”
Current border measures, including the existing vaccination requirement for most foreign nationals to enter Canada, and quarantine and testing requirements for Canadians who have not received their primary vaccine series, remain in effect when reentering Canada.
“The mandatory vaccination requirement successfully mitigated the full impact of Covid-19 for travellers and workers in the transportation sector and provided broader protection to our communities. Suspending this requirement is possible thanks to the tens of millions of Canadians who did the right thing: they stepped up, rolled up their sleeves, and got vaccinated. This action will support Canada’s transportation system as we recover from the pandemic,” said Omar Alghabra, the Minister of Transport of Canada.
The suspension of the mandate comes at a time when the government is under growing pressure from the travel industry and some opposition parties to remove public health mandates that have been blamed for delays and flight disruptions at airports.